A second-half double to exciting debutant Mark Nawaqanitawase briefly gave the Tahs hope, reducing the margin to six points before the Crusaders hit back with three more tries to seal the match.
Nawaqanitawase delivered on the promise he has shown through the Junior Wallabies, NRC and pre-season trials to show he is worthy of an ongoing place in Super Rugby.
The flyer eventually got the Tahs on the board, stepping inside his man and diving over to plant the ball one-handed after the visitors chanced their hand on the back of a penalty advantage and Jake Gordon delivering a long pass to Nawaqanitawase on the flank.
When he took an intercept just four minutes later and raced 40m to score, it was suddenly game on, with the Tahs trailing just 24-18.
But in a trend that plagued them all match, the Tahs made too many errors and missed too many tackles to be consistently competitive and were punished by the Crusaders.
Both teams have undergone great change after an exodus of players following the World Cup.
But the Crusaders dealt with that best, showing patience in the opening arm wrestle before building pressure and pouncing on the Tahs’ errors.
The home side piled on three first-half tries to lead 24-6 at the break and while they looked briefly vulnerable, they bounced back with another three tries before Alex Newsome notched a late consolation for the visitors.